Tickets for the annual "Explore JPL" event at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena sold out within an hour of becoming available at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The tickets were free online on a first-come, first-served basis. More tickets may become available with cancellations.
The weekend-long event takes place May 20-21. With a ticket, attendees will get an up-close look at JPL's Space Flight Operations Facility, along with the chance to see models of spacecraft and Mars rovers, according to the event's website.
Until last year, the event wasn't ticketed. But, due to its increasing popularity, JPL was forced to limit the number of attendees:
NASA scientists will be around to answer questions and educate guests, Kimberly Lievense, JPL's public services office manager, told KPCC. It's an event the staff looks forward to every year, she said.
"JPL is a NASA facility, and it's difficult to get into NASA facilities just because it's a working environment — not like Disneyland," she said. "It's an opportunity to see things [the public] wouldn't normally get to see."
The maximum number of tickets per visitor is five. Children under 2 don't require a ticket. Guests must have a ticket in hand, plus they need to bring a matching ID if they're 18 years old or older. The tickets can't be sold, according to the event's website.
The facility has held public open houses for decades. In addition to the "Explore JPL" event each year, the facility hosts public lectures and weekday tours that draw tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world, according to its website.
The JPL Public Services Office also offers tours free of charge for groups and individuals on a limited reservation basis. Visitor parking is also available free of charge, according to JPL's website.
JPL is a federally funded research and development facility, carrying out robotic space and Earth science missions, according to its website.